Tree Bogs!

The view you see above is the fantastic view from our Tree Bog at Camp Cob.

A Tree Bog is a toilet that relies on the nitrate loving properties of plants such as: Willow and Nettles to break down the contents of the toilet in super quick time, meaning there is no need for emptying or moving of the toilet over time.

We have Nettles, Willows, Plum and Pine trees growing around our Tree Bog. A download will be available shortly on our website of a little ‘how to’ booklet should you wish to have a go at building one of these fantastic toilets!

June Camp Cob

This June’s visit is primarily for us to focus on the task of re-pointing the existing Flint plinth, which together with the existing Cob walls of the property had been unwittingly nearly ruined by a reinforced cement render which had been applied about 20 yrs ago. For those in the know, cement and concrete are a notorious problem for introducing damp and mould into buildings and for all permeable (breathable) building materials such as Cob, Straw and Timber it is particularly bad news.

For Cob it means that the cement traps water within the wall, which over time can literally wash the cob wall and mortars away. Luckily Cob is pretty tough stuff and once we’d removed all of the cement our Cob wall was still intact if a little wet!

Unfortunately the mortar of the Flint plinth took the brunt of the water erosion and had in many cases nearly washed away completely.

Instead of replacing the original Cob mortar we chose to repair and re-point with a 3:1 sharp sand and Lime putty mortar. This was to add strength to the new flint joints (as with a repair and not a rebuild you are repairing holes in a wall rather than rebuilding where you can lay the stones more specifically on top of each other to take downward loads), whilst maintaining the permeability of the Cob.

Camp Cob – The overgrowth

Wow! After two weeks of warm weather and rain, Camp Cob is pretty much lost in the undergrowth! It was so fantastic when we arrived to remove the vine that had grown over the entrance gate and push our way through. Myself, Vera and Tor spent the afternoon wading through 6ft high Rhubarb, Plum tree shoots and covered in Goose Grass, making paths so we could find the way to our fantastic Tree bog and to rediscover the Kitchen for the enormous quantity of tea which needed to be drunk.

In true ‘Where’s Wally’ fashion, the eagle eyed amongst you may just spot a Tor hiding in the jungle…

Strawbale building demo


The Hastings Trust Pathway to Construction event was held this year on 5th June. It’s a great event where local builders partner up with local schools on a sustainable construction project for a term, the results of which are then judged at the event. We at Cave feel it’s really important for our UK construction industry to get involved with schools and help children to understand their environment better and to hopefully tap into and encourage any would be builders, designers and architects out there.

At this event Cave partnered up with the fantastic Amazonails (sustainable design and construction pioneers!) to run a stand all about the amazing potential of strawbale building! Above you see  Barbara Jones of Amazonails and Vera demonstrating the ease of splitting a strawbale in half, you just have to be careful not to get your strings crossed!

Yurt building

Yurt Building at Pathway to Construction

On Saturday 5th June, when most sensible people were fast asleep, Vera was up with the Lark and helping to build a Yurt. These beautiful, simple structures originated in Mongolia and Serbia with evidence of their use dating back to prehistoric times.

Vera and the team got this yurt up in  less than an hour!

Here are some interesting Yurt sites that we like:

Hastings Net Shops

These are the amazing Net shops on Hastings sea front in the old town.

Vera and I went down to Hastings last weekend for the Hastings Trusts ‘Pathway to Construction’ event. Before we got stuck into that, we had a fascinating tour of the old town from Peter at ‘Chalkdown Lime’. These Net shops are the only buildings like this in the UK, built by fishermen to house their nets, they would have originally (before the new artificial beach) been on piers to allow the sea to wash up under them at high tides. Ingenious as well as beautiful!

Cressing Temple

Cressing Temple, Essex

Cressing Temple, Essex

V and I visited the amazing Cressing Temple Barns in Essex for a CPD workshop on sustainable methhods of  damp proofing and pest control.

If you can spot V in the picture above you’ll get an idea about how enormous these two barns are. Built in the 13th Century by the Knights Templars (and we met a real one when we where there!), they are beautiful and well worth a visit.